Thursday, June 26, 2008

Save Sacred Amarnath Shrine...Don't Communalise...Protest - Join us !

PROTEST to Protect our Sacred Shrine of Amarnath
Please assemble at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on Sunday at 11:00am
It isn't a protest by some organisation but a desperate call from Kashmiri Pandit Youth to all citizens of India.
Its time we declare our PRESENCE. Kashmiri Pandits are still very much a part of the Valley.
If we remain silent today; we'll prove that its not our land.
They are making holy pilgrimage of Amarnath Communal... How can we possibly not react..?!?!?
Let us all come together to show our respect for the shrine and let the seperatists know... that Kashmir is our valley.
Otherwise Communalists will continue to spread the chants of their so-called freedom strugle..
BE THERE..!!!!
Jantar Mantar- 11.00 a.m.- this Sunday (29th June)
Its our call now...

Amarnath row: Kashmiri Pandits seek PM's intervention

Press Trust of India, June 25, 2008
With Kashmir witnessing protests over transfer of forest land to Amarnath Shrine Board, Kashmiri Pandits on Wednesday appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene, saying his government and party could not remain a "mute spectator" to the "religious cleansing".
Two Kashmiri Pandit organisations -- Panun Kashmir and Roots in Kashmir -- said the latest developments in the valley clearly highlighted the "communal fangs" prevalent there and argued for creation of a separate homeland for the community in the state.
"We are addressing this letter to you with great concern at the fast deteriorating socio-political milieu of the state," Panun Kashmir Chairman Agnishekhar said in his letter to the prime minister.
"Of particular concern is the rapidly communal stance and statements of the frontline political parties, not to talk of the separatists and the militant groups," he said.
Agnishekhar said "brandishing of stark communalism by parties like the PDP, the National Conference, the CPI(M), the separatists and the militants has caused serious alarm to Kashmiri Hindus in particular and crores of Hindus in general."
He wrote the letter in the wake of series of street protests and statements by political parties against the transfer of some hectares of land to Amarnath Shrine Board for construction of some temporary structures to facilitate the annual pilgrimage to the holy cave.
"The protagonists of this vicious tirage dub the holy Amarnath yatra as a cultural invasion of Kashmir affecting its ecology, cultural identity and demography. To this effect, these people have been issuing highly inflammatory communal statements causing hurt and anguish to a billion Hindus and Kashmiri Hindus in particular," Agnishekhar said.

The Panun Kashmir chief said the developments exposed the "much-touted Kashmiriyat" which is "nothing but a smokescreen to camouflage the communal fangs."
He particularly accused former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Beig, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami for "openly fanning communalism" in the valley.
"Congress is the ruling party in the state and it cannot remain a mute spectator to the happenings around. The gains of our valiant security forces are being frittered away at the cost of political expediency," Agnishekhar said.
"In this hour of crisis, your personal intervention alone would save the day," he said addressing the Prime Minister.
Roots in Kashmir also wrote a similar letter to Singh, saying some political parties, including ruling Congress, were hell-bent on creating hurdles in the Amarnath yatra.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wandhama echoes through the nation

Aastha Manocha
The Indian Express (Kashmir Live)
New Delhi, June 23: Lest we forget. This seemed to be the underlying thought on World Refugee Day as Kashmiri Hindu organisations in various parts of the country held events and programmes to remember the Wandhama massacre that happened 10 years ago and whose file has been closed by the J&K police.
Wandhama massacre refers to the worst massacre of Kashmiri Hindus, commonly known as the Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to flee Kashmir after selective killings of members of their community. Though a majority of them fled, some of the families chose to stay back. Wandhama massacre refers to the gunning down of 10 men, nine women and four children of four pandit families in village Wandhama in 1998 on the eve of Republic Day.
At a panel discussion in Delhi, Mukul Sharma, Head of Amnesty International, India, was bombarded with questions regarding the role of his agency in bringing retribution to the victims of the Wandhama massacre, he lamented the fact that the government had not let the UN special repertoire to investigate the situation in the valley, which continues to see human rights violations.
Gautam Kaul, former D-G of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, gave the viewpoint from the law enforcing and investigating agencies. While listing several measures that should have been taken by the state police, he said the closing down of the case has made it all the more easier for the perpetrators to evade justice as an open case can always be cross referenced with new findings. He also said that the closing down of a case of such magnitude could not have been done without political will.
Asha Khosa, a senior journalist who has covered the Wandhama incident extensively, said that it was up to the civil society to make sure that such incidents do not remain forgotten.

Tarun Vijay, former editor of the Panchjanya, predictably lamented the fact that the existence of Hinduism in the valley has now been forgotten.

In Hyderabad, Kashmiri Pandits held an information dissemination event outside the CM’s camp office and handed the CM a letter requesting him to recommend the re-opening of Wandhama massacre inquiry by CBI, to the Central Government.

In Pune too, a two day photo exhibition preceded by a press conference was organized to raise awareness about this massacre and to demand the reopening the case and a CBI investigation.

Strange as it may seem, no one has even been arrested, said Rahul Kaul, a young activist.
‘What is truly bizarre is the fact that the local police have closed the case citing non-traceability of the killers’.

Wandhama's endless night by Sandhya Jain(in Pioneer)

Jammu & Kashmir's minuscule Hindu community, victim of severe religious persecution and ethnic cleansing over the past two decades, once again lost hope of an improvement in the political climate, which might have facilitated a return home, with the quiet closure of one of the worst massacres of the past decade. Last month, the community was shocked to learn that the Jammu & Kashmir Police had quietly closed the 1998 Wandhama massacre file, claiming "untraceability of the killers", though Indian law does not allow the closure of unsolved murder cases.
Actually, there was never any serious investigation of the massacre. The massacre saw the cold-blooded killing of 23 Hindus in Wandhama village in Ganderbal, the constituency of then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, on the night of January 25, 1998, the eve of Republic Day. One of the worst instances of ethnic cleansing, the victims included four children, nine women and 10 men; 14-year-old Vinod Dhar was the sole survivor. The Union Government had declared inability to help with the investigation in any respect, no doubt on account of Article 370.
Dhar revealed that masked gunmen entered the homes of the four Hindu families around 11.30 pm. They spoke Urdu, not Kashmiri, and asked for tea, which was served by his mother. Suddenly, firing broke out in all homes; the boy hid upstairs; the men set the house on fire before leaving. Vinod came down and saw the bodies of his family; the three other Hindu homes and a temple were also burning. Most Muslim neighbours were at the mosque for the holy night of Shab-e-Qader, and learnt of the killings when their women alerted them.
The State police said an unknown organisation, Intikaam-ul-Muslimoon, had left a letter on one of the bodies, claiming responsibility for the killing and warning of forthcoming attacks to avenge killings in Handwara. Villagers from both communities blamed the massacre on the "unwise" decision to shift an Army camp from the area seven months ago. Understandably, the slaughter triggered a fresh flight of Hindu families from Jammu & Kashmir.
Worse, the tragedy went virtually uninvestigated despite several pleas by Kashmiris. Instead of asking a superior investigating agency like the CID or CBI to help identify the killers, an incompetent or indifferent police callously closed the case on the grounds that no one had been identified as the killer of the Pandits. This is an ominous form of exoneration.
Though Wandhama shook the nation, agitating Kashmiri Hindus had to break down police barricades in New Delhi to get a hearing with the politically correct National Human Rights Commission. Panun Kashmir convener Agnishekhar fell unconscious when hit by a water cannon and had to be hospitalised. This compelled NHRC chairman Justice MN Venkatachaliah to order an on-the-spot investigation and issue notices to the Union Home Secretary, the State Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Jammu & Kashmir, regarding the safety of citizens in the Valley. It sought an action-taken report from the State and ordered special care for the upkeep of sole survivor Vinod Dhar.
But the problem of Kashmiri Hindus, then as now, can be summed up as 'studied neglect'. On January 28, 1998, even as people mourned the tragedy, then Prime Minister IK Gujral celebrated the inauguration of the National Winter Games at Gulmarg with Mr Farooq Abdullah and Union Environment Minister Saifuddin Soz. This struck such a jarring note that the CPI(M) state general secretary felt forced to say that "as a mark of respect to the carnage of the innocent Pandits, the Government should have at least cancelled the colourful cultural programme, keeping in view the gloom that has engulfed the Valley people".
The Wandhama massacre marked the second stage of Hindu killings in the Valley; the first targetted individuals or males in groups of two or three. Wandhama saw the concentrated killing of entire families in chosen villages. By this time, the militancy was controlled by jihadis from Pakistan, products of Dawat-ul Irshad at Muridke, or madarsas affiliated to the Jamaat-e-Islami or Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (which spawned Taliban). They were doctrinaire in their commitment to global Islamic resurgence and determined to wrest Jammu & Kashmir.
Scanning Press reports of the massacre, one found grieving Muslim neighbours reporting having advised the Hindu families to seek safety in Jammu, which the Hindus resisted, saying they loved the village. While respecting the sorrow of local Muslims, India must demand more from its Muslim citizens in the face of its unending suffering at the hands of jihadi outfits trained and sponsored by Pakistan and Bangladesh. For a start, Kashmiri Muslims must appreciate that the land of Rishi Kashyapa has a rich and hoary Vedic tradition which they must venerate and preserve if they truly believe in a composite Kashmiri culture, called 'Kashmiriyat'. The State language should be Kashmiri, not Urdu.
Ganderbal district presented a grim sight: 23 funeral pyres were erected; a lonely child lit each in turn. There was no one left, he said, to look after him, his fields, orchards, cattle. What an inheritance. The Wandhama massacre exposed the claims of the Centre and the State Government that the Valley was returning to normal. In fact, the return of an elected Government witnessed three massacres of Hindus -- Sangrampura (March 1997); Gul Gulabgarh (June 1997); and, Wandhama (January 1998). Kashmiris who fled naturally rebuffed Mr Abdullah's calls to return, as he failed to admit or mitigate their security concerns. The Centre was a mute spectator.
Currently, in election year, political parties are frantically calling Kashmiri Hindus back to the Valley, announcing sops and financial incentives to regain international credibility. The objective is to restore the shattered myth of composite culture, a euphemism for Hindu acquiescence in the politico-cultural domination of Islam. Subordination induced by centuries of oppression led Kashmiri Hindus to adopt a peculiar self-apartheid and insist on having a distinct identity from other Indian Hindus; the price was a chilling Hindu indifference to their predicament.
But the wheel turned full circle when the flight of Hindus weakened the position of Kashmiri Muslims vis-à-vis Pakistan on the issue of independence. Recognition has belatedly dawned that Hindus are a bulwark against outright absorption into the 'land of the pure'. As the Prophet inducted Arabs into his new faith tribe by tribe, Islam failed to eradicate tribal-ethnic identities, though it cannot admit them. Kashmiri Muslims cannot submit to Punjabi domination in Pakistan.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Govt clueless about death toll of Pandits in the Valley

Hindustan Times (Yahoo News)
Sat, Jun 21 01:10 AM
The Centre may have the number of security personnel or militants killed in J and amp;K since the outbreak of violence in 1989, but it does not have any count of the Kashmiri Pandits who fell prey to insurgency. This admission, by the Centre, came in response to an RTI application filed by a Kashmiri Pandit, Aditya Raj Kaul, who wanted to know how many of his community members were killed in the state since 1989.

"J&K Police has not shared information on the killings of Kashmiri Pandits with the Central Government," the Union Home Ministry had said in its reply. Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda told HT that sharing of information with the Centre was a routine matter.

"We furnish whatever information is sought from us." The RTI came in the wake of a report, carried by a newspaper recently, and said to have been compiled by the J&K Police for the first time since the outbreak of violence in the Valley.
It said militants had killed 209 Kashmiri Pandits since 1989. The report also said 31 militants were booked for killings in 24 out of 140 cases while killers in 115 cases remain unidentified or untraced.

"Since we contest the numbers of Kashmiri Pandits killed as cited by the report, we wanted to cross check it. The fact that all 31 militants charge-sheeted for killing Kashmiri Pandits were on bail was what prompted me to seek more information about it" Kaul said.

The Ministry said while 20,621 militants had been killed between January 1990 and April 2008 about 5147 security personnel laid down their lives while fighting terrorism. Kaul had filed another RTI with the Home Ministry, seeking details on the Wandhama massacre, in which militants killed 23 Kashmir Pandits on January 25, 1998.

However, the Centre again had no information about the incident. "We wanted to know what real progress had been made in this case and why wasn't it referred to a better agency had the local police failed to make any headway," said Kaul.
Pictures - 20th June - International Refugee's Day - New Delhi Seminar

The PANELISTS - Gautam Kaul, Ex-DG-ITBP, Mukul Sharma, Dir.-Amnesty Inte'l India, Tarun Vijay, Columnist, Aasha Khosa, Journalist.

A section of the audience.

The audience keenly watching the audio-video presentation on Wandhama.

A Delegate making a point to Mukul Sharma, Director - Amnesty Inte'l India.


Here are the news reports from Delhi

Govt has no details of massacre /Wandhama Massacre
Friday, June 20,2008
NEW DELHI: Ten years have passed but the Union home ministry says it does not have any details on the Wandhama massacre in which 23 people were killed, reportedly by terrorists, in Jammu and Kashmir. The home ministry’s surprising reply came in response to an application under the Right to Information Act about the 1998 killings.The home ministry merely claims it was aware of the Wandhama massacre in the reply to Mr Aditya Raj Kaul, a Kashmiri activist based in Delhi. The ministry has not answered questions on details of the victims and the terrorists involved in the attack. The applicant had sought to know the names of those killed, their gender, age, and the time and day of the massacre. None of these were provided by the ministry. Asked about follow-up action by the local police after the massacre, the home ministry replied: "This information is not available with the Central government."It repeated the same answer when asked what prevented the local police from making further progress while remaining silent on whether the local police had closed the case.The ministry has replied "No" to a question on whether there was any move to hand over the case to the CBI or any other investigating agency. The ministry also said that the applicant should seek information about the massacre from the Jammu and Kashmir government, which is the right authority, but added that the Central act on Right to Information is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir.The Wandhama massacre took place on the eve of Republic Day in 1998. The J&K media recently quoted the SHO of Wandhama as saying the case had been closed as the perpetrators of the massacre could not be traced.
Hope for ousted Kashmiri pundits
Priyanka Sarkar New Delhi
Even after more than a decade, the scar of the Wandhama massacre is still afresh in the mind and soul of Kashmiri Hindus. On the occasion of World Refugee Day in Kashmir, a frontline group of the Kashmiri Pundits presented an audio-visual presentation and a panel discussion focusing on the Wandhama Massacre. The panel consisted of eminent personalities from all the spheres including members from the media, Human Rights and Former Director of ITBP.
The panel of guest speakers spoke about negligence done in such case and emphasised the need of making a link of communication with the victims. Media person, Asha Khosa, cited an incident while she was reporting for a national daily. "It was a barbaric scenario that one can cite ever," she said at the panel discussion organised by Roots in Kashmir on Friday evening.
"Life is miserable over there and people are so poor that they can't even move out of that place," she added. After so much of security and high alerts, the question still remains, "Will I ever be able to live my life without the fear of terrorists?" She recounted the horror which has failed to be erased from the minds of victims of the massacre. The panelists including former ITBP director general Gautam Kaul, journalists Tarun Vijay and Asha Khosa discussed on prevention of such attacks in future.
The massacre refers to the murder of Kashmiri Hindus in the town of Wandhama on the intervening night of January 25, 1998. It was one of the worst incidents carried out by militants in Kashmir. It was an illustration of the Kashmir militants policy of ethnic cleansing. The victims, included four children, nine women and ten men. Those who were killed were among the handful of Kashmiri Pundits who had chosen to stay back after the mass evacuation of half a million of their kin due to ethnic cleansing carried out by Pakistan sponsored terrorist in the Kashmir valley in 1989-90.
What however is truly tragic is the fact that the local police have closed the Wandhama Massacre case citing the reason that the killers are untraceable. Sub Divisional police officer Ganderbal Showkat Ahmad who was the then Station House Officer for the area reportedly said, "the case has been closed, as no one was identified as the killer of the Pundits." No one has been convicted for the massacre till date.
Tarun Vijay said that it is time to ponder into the reason as to why such massacres take place. "Instead of just having panel discussions, it is time we should come on board and discuss what needs to be done to prevent such incidents. What is the politics behind it and what are the political pressures. It is only through these efforts that we will be able to give them what they've lost," Vijay said.


Wandhama massacre remembered
Marking World Refugee Day, "Roots in Kashmir" a group of Kashmiri Pandits, today organised a panel discussion on the 1998 Wandhama massacre when 23 members of the community were killed by militants.
Panelists including former ITBP director general Gautam Kaul, journalists Tarun Vijay and Asha Khosa discussed on prevention of such attacks in future.
The Wandhama massacre took place on the intervening night of January 25. Twenty-three Pandits were killed by militants.
No one has been convicted for the massacre till date.